RUNNING HEAD: Alcoholism: Is it Inherited or a Chosen Disease
Topics in Social Science: The Black Family
Professor Marsha Allman
December 16, 2009
During Behavioral Health training at my job, a coworker mentioned something that shocked me and sparked an immediate intense discussion. He mentioned that alcoholism is hereditary. Everyone that participated in the discussion agreed with his statement with the exception of another colleague and me. During the discussion the instructor mentioned that is a proven fact that drug addition such as alcoholism is hereditary. Up until this point I was unaware that studies from several researchers have shown that certain people may be genetically disposed to this disease. The discussion pertaining to the genetically disposition towards alcoholism was one that challenged me. Surprised by this revelation and puzzled at the same time I decided to challenge this.
The purpose of my study is to examine generational families that include alcohol abuse. I am a child of two parents who abused alcohol and I am pretty aware of the consequences. Although I do not use alcohol, it was important for me to find out what consequences there are for me if I do. Am I genetically disposed to becoming an alcoholic? To what generation could this happen? What are the safeguards, if there are any, other than abstinence from alcohol intake? Should further research be conducted to determine if alcoholism is inherited or is alcoholism a disease chosen by individuals?
The Literature Review
Alcoholism as a disease lays the foundation to my query and why it was significant for me to seek answers. Clinicians, scientists and others dispute whether or not to refer to alcoholism as a disease. When you think about the damage that affect the body and mind due to alcoholism, the outcome certainly can be described as having transferred to a disease (Alcoholism-a Disease, 2009). Abusing alcohol eventually causes imbalances to the hormonal system; causes damage to organs, alter brain-cells, and stimulate nerve damage (Alcoholism – Disease 2009). People fairly understand the severity of alcoholism and how it can become life altering. Scientist have discovered that continuous alcohol abuse causes severe damage on the psyche which is more harmful than the damage caused to the heart, liver and other essential organs (Alcoholism-a Disease, 2009). It’s quite common for beginners and middle stage alcoholics to function normally, however over time this will change for (of) the worst. They will become stressed and less likely to handle their problems effectively. It is usually impossible for family members and friends to reach out to the alcohol abuser until it becomes a detrimental occurrence such as a life-threatening situation.
Most alcoholics are dependent on the use of alcohol. Dependency on alcohol is when the use of alcohol is needed for physical comfort (Fitzgerald, 1998). When an individual is alcohol dependent the start of their day is initiated by alcohol and their daily routine includes alcohol not to mention the alcohol usage may occur throughout the day and night. Goodwin (1979) pointed out that one out of twelve or one out of fifteen people abuse alcohol. This is very alarming. It has been discovered that alcoholism is genetically transmitted through the body chemistry, not through the mind or environment. This genetic component is passed on from generation to generation. It does not discriminate, it manifest where it will amongst rich or poor. Just like all inherited traits they are transferred during conception the same way one inherits their eyes and lips. Currently, there is less than a dozen genes that controls ones risk for alcoholism that have been identified, though more exist (Bierut and Nurnberger, 2007). Fitzgerald (1988) stated, “Children...
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